Emily Oster

2 min Read Emily Oster

Emily Oster

How Can I Get My Kid to Sleep in Their Own Bed?

Q&A on accidental co-sleeping

Emily Oster

2 min Read

My seven-month-old was sick and spent a week in our bed because it was the only way he’d sleep. Now that he’s back to healthy, he won’t sleep in his crib. Did we screw ourselves? Is co-sleep habit-forming?

—Tired

All sleep behaviors are habit-forming, I am somewhat sorry to say. And kids are really, really responsive. Part of the reason why sleep training often works so quickly is that they are adaptable and can learn fast. But these skills can also be unlearned fast, which is what you are seeing here. What you did makes a ton of sense — sleeping when sick is so important — but it’s not surprising that now he doesn’t want to go back. 

Moving forward … the first question I would ask (I think I know the answer but will ask anyway): do you want to go back? Some people like co-sleeping, and, with an older infant, the risks associated with it (if you do it safely) are much more limited. If co-sleeping is what you want in the long term, maybe there is no problem.

Your sign-off makes me think that’s not where you want to be.

If that’s the case, then there is a glass-half-empty and glass-half-full answer. The glass-half-empty answer is that the only way to get back to where you were before is to enforce it consistently, which probably means some crying. You can read this post on sleep training if you want details on how others have done this. 

The glass-half-full is that you can see how fast one habit developed, and the other can develop fast too. You’re not many days out of fixing this, just as it wasn’t many days to get into it in the first place.

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SLEEP DATA 💤 PART 2: Let’s talk about naps. Comment “Link” for an article on what we learned about daytime sleep!

The first three months of life are a chaotic combination of irregular napping, many naps, and a few brave or lucky souls who appear to have already arrived at a two-to-three nap schedule. Over the next few months, the naps consolidate to three and then to two. By the 10-to-12-month period, a very large share of kids are napping a consistent two naps per day. Over the period between 12 and 18 months, this shifts toward one nap. And then sometime in the range of 3 to 5 years, naps are dropped. What I think is perhaps most useful about this graph is it gives a lot of color to the average napping ages that we often hear. 

Note: Survey data came from the ParentData audience and users of the Nanit sleep monitor system. Both audiences skew higher-education and higher-income than the average, and mostly have younger children. The final sample is 14,919 children. For more insights on our respondents, read the full article.

SLEEP DATA 💤 PART 2: Let’s talk about naps. Comment “Link” for an article on what we learned about daytime sleep!

The first three months of life are a chaotic combination of irregular napping, many naps, and a few brave or lucky souls who appear to have already arrived at a two-to-three nap schedule. Over the next few months, the naps consolidate to three and then to two. By the 10-to-12-month period, a very large share of kids are napping a consistent two naps per day. Over the period between 12 and 18 months, this shifts toward one nap. And then sometime in the range of 3 to 5 years, naps are dropped. What I think is perhaps most useful about this graph is it gives a lot of color to the average napping ages that we often hear.

Note: Survey data came from the ParentData audience and users of the Nanit sleep monitor system. Both audiences skew higher-education and higher-income than the average, and mostly have younger children. The final sample is 14,919 children. For more insights on our respondents, read the full article.
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Comment “Link” for a DM to an article on the data around sun and heat exposure for babies.

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